First ‘institutional’ Bitcoin donated to UNICEF’s crypto fund

This is the UNICEF heart hugging Bitcoin because Huobi just donated 7 BTC.

Huobi Group, parent of Seychelles-based crypto exchange Huobi Global, says it’s the first “institution” to donate Bitcoin to UNICEF’s crypto fund.

Huobi’s charity arm has pledged $1 million over the next three years to the UN agency’s Innovation Fund, which finances open source technology that can benefit children.

Huobi will split its donation, intended specifically for blockchain startups, across Bitcoin and US dollars.

The fiat will go to UNICEF’s broader Innovation Fund and the BTC to its CryptoFund, which handles Bitcoin and Ethereum for UNICEF. So far, Huobi has given 7 BTC to UNICEF.

Ciara Sun, VP of Global Markets at Huobi Group, told Protos that BTC was worth approximately $50,000 at the time, which brought their combined value to just under $350,000. 

An individual donor previously gave 1 BTC, but Huobi’s contribution marks the first “institution” to do so, according to press materials.

Huobi will donate the remaining $650,000 in US dollars.

Thomas Davin, Director of the Office of Innovation at UNICEF, explained in an email that much of UNICEF’s work spans multiple years, so “it’s not uncommon to have longer term partners.”

“By establishing such a partnership, UNICEF and its partners work together to achieve common goals,” said Davin.

UNICEF’s CryptoFund receives more Ethereum than Bitcoin

In total, we understand UNICEF’s Innovation Fund has received $34.9 million in donations to date.

Its crypto-specific fund has so far raised 2,267 ETH ($4.8 million) and 8 BTC ($469,000) since its launch in 2019 (including Huobi’s donation).

According to UNICEF’s investments tracker, its CryptoFund has invested just under half of those digital assets to date.

The funds have gone towards social impact startups in Argentina, Mexico, Tunisia, Cambodia, India, Chile, Turkey, and Guatemala.

Curiously, the crypto donations UNICEF has received skew heavily towards Ethereum over Bitcoin, but the disparity appears natural.

[Read more: Bitcoin for Navalny — $120K donated during weekend protests]

Davin confirmed UNICEF is not promoting one blockchain or cryptocurrency over another, and it chose Bitcoin and Ethereum due to the wider distribution of those cryptocurrencies.

“UNICEF chose the first two cryptocurrencies to accept based on a set of criteria: cryptocurrencies that have large market caps and are on public, permissionless blockchains,” said Davin. “We wanted to find the safest and least risky way to start the asset classification.”

Where is Huobi based? That depends

In any case, Huobi’s donation to UNICEF comes around a month after its curious interaction with Seychelles’ financial watchdog. 

Huobi was founded in China in 2014 but now operates parts of its business out of the Seychelles. However, the tax haven’s Financial Services Authority (FSA) briefly warned the public in March that Huobi didn’t actually hold a license with local regulators.

The FSA later withdrew its notice. A Huobi spokesperson told Protos its charity arm is licensed and regulated by an entity independent from the FSA, and confirmed the donations to UNICEF weren’t made in response to the watchdog’s now-retracted warning.

“Huobi is a decentralized organization with headquarters spread across the globe and a customer base that covers 170-plus countries, and Huobi Charity is based in Gibraltar,” they said.

“Huobi consists of many different entities under the brand umbrella, so it depends on the product or service.”

Edit 15:02 UTC, Apr 6: The lede has been updated to clarify the donations were made via Huobi Group, rather than the crypto exchange (Huobi Global) directly.

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